Tag Archives: Weight Gain

My Perfect Christmas Gift

24 Dec
annie1

Baby Annie
Born 12/4/13
1:47 p.m.
7 lbs. 12 oz.
19 3/4 inches

I received my Christmas gift three weeks ago when my perfect Anna (Annie) was born. The last month of my pregnancy was rocky…I had prodormal labor, and went to the hospital three times during my last two weeks. I caught a nasty respiratory virus over Thanksgiving, and I really thought I couldn’t take it anymore. But little Annie waited until the time was exactly right…my water broke at 4:30 a.m. on December 4, and she made her grand entrance (after about an hour and a half of real pain) at 1:47 p.m. When they put her on my chest, she didn’t make a peep. She just stared at me with her peaceful little face.

My recovery has been so good, and Annie is such a good baby, that I kept waiting for some bad news to arrive. But there is none. Annie is a little angel – a perfect Christmas gift. As for my thyroidless pregnancy and birth experience, here is the list of my worries, paired with my final outcomes.

  • Ability to conceive – no issues
  • Excessive weight gain – gained 27 pounds (the least I have ever gained with a pregnancy)
  • Inability to control hormone levels – had to stay organized and get tested frequently, but leveled out with no problem by week 25
  • Difficult labor and delivery – it was no picnic, but unrelated to my thyroid!
  • Cancer recurrence – I checked out “cancer-free” in July, and will follow up again in April
  • Birth defects – Annie is BEYOND perfect!
  • Congenial hypothyroidism – I felt like I couldn’t breathe easy until Annie’s own thyroid levels were checked. Again, she is perfect!
  • Hormone crash post-delivery – This still might happen, but so far, I am the LEAST hormonal that I have ever been post-delivery. No tears, no temper tantrums, and so far, no hypo- OR hyperthyroid symptoms. My body may have adjusted to the new higher dose of medication, or I may need to adjust in a few months. I will have follow-up testing next month.
  • Breastfeeding issues – Annie is a champion breastfeeder, and my thyroidlessness has had zero effect on my milk supply. This has by far been my easiest transition into breastfeeding.
  • Weight loss post-delivery – I gained 27 pounds, and after three weeks, I have 7 left to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I am struggling to celebrate this milestone, because my natural reaction is to compare myself to my wedding photos, and say that I really need to lose 20 pounds. I have to remind myself that I believed having another baby might mean I would NEVER lose the pregnancy weight, and that is obviously not true. My pre-pregnancy jeans (though a little snug) even zip all the way!

It’s hard to imagine a better Christmas gift than Annie. She is the perfect addition to my family, whom I love so much. I am humbled and grateful and so very happy. Merry Christmas to all of you, and the best of health and happiness in 2014!

 

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Tips for a Healthy Hypothyroid Pregnancy

28 Oct

ForTwoFitness-AmbassadorSeal_200

I was featured on the For Two Fitness Blog! Link below and here is the full text:

TIPS FOR A HEALTHY HYPOTHYROID PREGNANCY

After my second daughter was born, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. My chances for survival were very good – more than 95% – but my chances for a permanently decreased metabolism, altered quality of life and infertility were also very high. Two years after my cancer treatment, I became pregnant for the third time, and I celebrated my good fortune. But then I immediately got to work on a plan for a healthy pregnancy.

Nearly 10% of the female population has some sort of thyroid disease, and uncontrolled hypothyroidism can cause serious pregnancy complications. I was personally very concerned that my thyroidlessness would magnify the already difficult challenges pregnancy poses on health and fitness. As I enter my 35th week of pregnancy, I am happy to report that I feel and look great, and so does my baby! Here are my top tips for a healthy hypothyroid pregnancy.

MANAGE YOUR STRESS AND FATIGUE

I work full-time, have two young children and live a go-go-go lifestyle. It was important to me that during this pregnancy, I had enough quiet time to listen to my body. Make a list of your weekly activities, and ask yourself which ones are critical, and which could take a backseat for a season. Ask for help where you can. Rely on friends, family and neighbors. Give yourself permission to say no when you need to, and prioritize rest and rejuvenation.

MANAGE YOUR MEDICATION

A women’s thyroid hormone needs can increase as much as 60% during pregnancy. Unfortunately, most doctors take a reactive approach to medication management. Through my own experience and research, I worked out a schedule to track my own progress. I also found that most doctors primarily use thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) as a hormone marker, but my own symptoms are more closely linked to my free hormone levels – free T4 and free T3. I had my doctor check all three levels the day I had a positive pregnancy test, and then every 4 weeks after that. As my pregnancy progressed, I needed to increase my dose and am now taking 40% more medication than I was pre-pregnancy to keep my TSH in lower end of the normal range, and my free hormone levels in the mid- to upper-ranges. The lab I use provides an iPhone app for patients to save and track their own results, but you can also do this in your own spreadsheet. The important thing is to take ownership and partner with your doctor to stay on top of your hormone needs and give both you and your baby what he/she needs.

MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT GAIN

Most non-pregnant hypothyroid women struggle to control their weight. In my experience, the slightest variation in thyroid hormone levels can result in 10 pounds that I have to work extra hard to lose. Naturally I was nervous about what a pregnancy with fluctuations in hormone needs would mean for me. To make matters more challenging, I rely on very high-impact activities to manage my weight when I am not pregnant, like TurboKick and running. During my first trimester, I continued these activities, but I definitely needed to modify my fitness plan as my body changed and my belly grew. Now I enjoy walking and Tracy Anderson’s The Pregnancy Project videos to keep me as fit as possible, and I focus on eating frequent, smaller, protein-packed meals. I use the Pregnancy Pounds iPhone app to watch for any big jumps in weight gain (which could indicate an issue with my medication dosage). I give myself small treats instead of big splurges to control my cravings, and I drink a lot of water. As I enter my last month of pregnancy, I have gained about 20 pounds, which is healthy for my body type, and actually less than I gained with my other pregnancies.

Generally speaking, hypothyroid women can have happy, healthy pregnancies too. Listen to your body, make modifications when you need to, stay fueled and hydrated, own your treatment plan, watch for major weight fluctuations, and treat yourself once in awhile!

http://fortwofitness.com/blog/2013/10/tips-for-a-healthy-hypothyroid-pregnancy/

Finding Normal

26 Dec

I have been waiting for three years to write this blog. As we close the year, I am celebrating FINALLY achieving the New Year’s Resolution that I have had since 2009. I have achieved normal.

After my thyroidectomy, I tried everything to relieve my hypothyroid symptoms. Based on all my research, I believed natural thyroid hormone replacement would be the answer I was looking for. For a majority of people, Armour Thyroid or NatureThroid is all it takes to resolve the symptoms of weight gain, dry hair that falls out, exhaustion, depression…(the list goes on). I had the opposite experience. Coming off of my stable dose of Synthroid put me in an uncontrollable tailspin. A year later, once I finally gave up control and went back on 125 mcg Synthroid + 5 mcg Cytomel (as my endocrinologist prescribed), I stopped the tailspin. But could I ever recover the “normal” that I lost so long ago?

Over the course of my journey, I have tried many weight loss strategies, including strict calorie counting, vigorous exercise, the elimination of wheat and the elimination of dairy. Absolutely nothing worked. Imagine my devastation as I found myself 20 pounds heavier from all of my medication changes. Even after stabilizing on Synthroid/Cytomel, starving and working out like a crazy person, the best I could do was a 3 pound weight loss over 8 weeks. I believed I was doomed to live a life avoiding pictures and mirrors. I would never feel comfortable again. I would not be able to shop in my favorite clothing stores, and I would never be excited for a dressed-up event ever again. I started every morning on the scale, filled with shame and dread. I went to see my holistic doctor one last time in desperation.

She prescribed the HCG diet. It’s controversial, it’s really hard, and it probably isn’t a good idea for someone who wasn’t already committed to doing whatever it takes. But it literally changed my life in just one month.

  • Phase 1 (2 days): Daily HCG injections and eating a “loading” amount of high calories and fat
  • Phase 2 (23-30 days): Daily HCG injections and eating only 500 calories a day…no sugar, no starch, no dairy, NO DIET SODA
  • Phase 3 (21 days): No HCG injections, 1500 calories a day, no sugar, no starch
  • Phase 4 (life): Slowly add back starch and sugar

I lost 9 pounds my first week. I am currently in Phase 3, and I am down 18 pounds and 14 inches. It was pretty hard, especially during the holiday season. But the quick results made it much easier to adhere to to the strict diet. The HCG reduces hunger and weakness, but I did have to temporarily postpone my workouts. I did a few TurboKick sessions that made me feel like I was going to pass out. That was really the only “con.” Critics say that anyone would lose weight by eating 500 calories a day. However, I was literally burning more calories than I was consuming during my low-iodine diet, and I didn’t have any noticeable weight loss at all. As for regaining my lost weight, I am confident that I will maintain, because I was already in the habit of watching my calories and exercising.

Before: My heaviest weight ever, exhausted and riddled with hypothyroid symptoms. After: Lower than my pre-surgery weight, happy and healthy!

Before: My heaviest weight ever, exhausted and riddled with hypothyroid symptoms. After: Lower than my pre-surgery weight, healthy and happy!

Because my thyroid medication is now stable, I feel very normal. My hair and skin look better than ever. I sleep great and I have plenty of energy to get through the day. Before my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I would not be happy with my size 8 pants. I would still be beating myself up and trying to fit into my wedding dress from 2002. Not this time. Today, I celebrate my healthy BMI, my comfortable jeans and my favorite Coldplay T-shirt. This Christmas, I posed for as many pictures with my family as my children would tolerate. I found normal. And I am never going back.

Christmas 2012 - enjoying my normal hair, my comfortable clothes and my wonderful family

Christmas 2012 – enjoying my normal hair, my comfortable clothes and my wonderful family

Surrender

19 Oct

It’s been two whole months since I’ve blogged. During those two months, I have been on a self-imposed hormonal roller coaster.

Remember how I said I couldn’t give up on losing weight and achieving “normal?” Since my thyroidectomy 14 months ago, I have tried the following thyroid replacement medication combinations:

  • 125 mcg Synthroid alone
  •  90 mg Armour Thyroid
  • 112 mcg Synthroid alone
  • 112 mcg Synthroid + 5 mcg Cytomel
  • 125 mcg Synthoird + 5 mcg Cytomel
  • 125 mcg Synthroid + GTA Forte supplements
  •  125 mcg Synthroid + 10 mcg Cytomel
  • 65 mcg Nature-Throid alone
  • 97.5 mg Nature-Throid alone
  • 65 mg Nature-Throid + 25 mcg Synthroid

Do you know when I felt my best? I felt the most “normal” on the very first dose of medication – 125 mcg Synthroid. I have spent the last 14 months in a complete state of panic, distrusting my doctors, self-medicating, and fending off impending weight gain. And as a side effect of all of my medication changes, I created the very thing I feared – weight gain. My latest conquest was switching to Nature-Throid. It took me MONTHS to find a doctor who would prescribe it. I worked so hard to stabilize my vitamin and iron levels first and I did everything by the book. And similar to my experience with Armour Thyroid, my body completely crashed, I started having extreme hypothyroid symptoms and I gained five pounds. Interestingly, my TSH stayed low at 0.43, but my FT4 was only 0.6. (Side note: this completely proves that you can be hypothyroid with a low TSH!) I tried upping my dose of Nature-Throid only to be greeted with extreme sweating and anxiety, and three more pounds. Then I tried combining a smaller dose of Synthroid with a smaller dose of Nature-Throid…all to no avail. Two weeks ago, in a fit of tears, I switched back to my old regimen: 125 mcg Synthroid + 5 mcg Cytomel. I am watching my calories very closely and burning at least 2000 calories a week through exercise, and so far, I have managed to lose five of the extra eight pounds I gained. I am beginning to feel better and most of my other symptoms are fading away. I also started taking Raspberry Keytones supplements, and I have no idea whether or not they are helping, or whether it’s the thyroid medication.

What I do know is that I have officially surrendered control. I am not a doctor and maybe I really don’t know what’s best when it comes to my thyroid replacement medication. As per usual, I took “being informed” into the extreme of being counter-productive. What if I had never messed with my medication at all? I may have been able to maintain my weight after surgery. The extra Cytomel would have resolved my lack of energy, and I could have been “normal” by now. Instead I endured 14 months of fighting, second-guessing, feeling good, feeling bad, losing sleep and gaining weight. So if this experience was supposed to teach me something, I suppose it did. My UofM Endocrinologist really is a good doctor. The first time I saw her, she told me the first year would be hard, that I might gain weight, but after a year, things would level out. At the time, I refused to accept that in my brain. My body, however, did exactly as she said it would. Before I switched to Nature-Throid, I was genuinely feeling good. Perhaps I was just about to turn a corner before I stepped in with my control issues and screwed it all up.

Can we pretend the last two months never happened? I promise I will behave this time.

525,600 Minutes

11 Aug

Today marks one year since I lost my thyroid, and my cancer. 365 days. 525,500 minutes. How do you measure a thyroidless year?

Before my surgery, I was terrified of gaining 50+ pounds. I was already struggling with reduced energy, and I thought I would become non-functioning. I was afraid I would have a terrible, ugly scar. I thought I was saying goodbye to my fertility. I was worried that my voice would never sound the same. I didn’t want to end up with breathing problems that would prevent me from running. Deep down, I thought they might open me up and find more cancer. I prayed my personality wouldn’t change and I wouldn’t end up with chronic depression. I thought I wouldn’t be a good mother anymore. I thought my marriage might suffer. I was worried about my career. I thought saying goodbye to my thyroid meant saying goodbye to life as I knew it.

I thought I would never be the same. I was right.

My surgery was a piece of cake. The best decision I could have made was choosing an endocrine surgeon who does thyroids all day long. You literally have to squint to see my scar. No complications. No surprises either; he took the cancer out, and it hasn’t spread or returned. My voice sounds exactly the same. I can still sing to Mary before bed, and I can still hold private radio concerts in my car. Just last week, I got to see Coldplay, singing my cancer anthem, up close and personal. No one at the Palace of Auburn Hills was screaming louder than I was.

My surgery was so non-eventful, that I interviewed for a new job just 10 DAYS after my thyroidectomy (wearing a necklace to hide my fresh incision). Despite all odds, they hired me, and I have never been happier in my career. I’m doing something I love, and working with fantastic people.

I can still run. In fact, in May, I ran a 5K a full minute faster than I did before my surgery. My daughters don’t think any differently of me…they still like to run around outside and get really sweaty…”to look like Mom after Zumba.”

Having cancer actually made me slow down and appreciate my beautiful family even more than I did before. It forced me, the ultimate caretaker, to let someone else take care of me. There were times this year when I was overwhelmed by how much I am loved. I don’t think I would have been able to experience that without really letting my husband take the wheel. And if we decide we want to have another baby, we can. At my one-year appointment, my endocrinologist gave that choice back to me.

Over the last year, I’ve struggled to feel like myself. There have been days where I’ve slept 12 hours and still wanted a nap. I take four different vitamin supplements a day to make up for the deficiencies my thyroid left behind. And I can’t lose weight to save my life. One year later, I am 12 pounds heavier, and 25 pounds more than “normal.” I’ve tried to accept it, but I can’t. So I will keep fighting, playing around with my medication, counting calories and exercising. In the meantime, I am actually learning to be happy in my life without being happy with my weight.

So how do you measure a thyroidless year? When I measure the joy in my life against my pain, I came out ahead. I am winning the war. I am surviving. There is light at the end of this tunnel, and I know I will achieve “normal” someday. Maybe next year.

To quote Chris Martin, “You can hurt…hurt me bad. But still I raise the flag.”

I ran two 5Ks this year, and followed up one with a 2K run with Ellie.

Andy and me before the Coldplay concert in August 2012. No scars visible.

The Flourless Experiment

15 Feb

I made it through 21 days of no flour. I incorporated Ezekiel bread into my breakfast. I ate more fruit, vegetables and lean meat. I skipped the quick airport and meeting snacks when I traveled to Florida last week. I even ordered salad at Disneyland. And what were the final results?

-0.8 pounds

That’s right, my initial weight loss kinda rebounded back, and I basically have nothing to show for my suffering. It’s true, I didn’t gain anything over the past three weeks, which is positive. And my digestion, brain fog and energy level have maintained their improvements. But what’s the use if I am still overweight? Today at lunch I ate 4 croutons in my salad and I had some vegetable dumplings. And boy, did I regret it. My stomach ballooned out and I almost fell asleep at my desk at 2:00 p.m. I have ruined my favorite food forever, and I am still fat!

So, here we are in My Journey…

DENIAL: I will be fine. This is the best cancer to get!

ANGER: I am NOT going to be one of those people who get really fat and have permanently hoarse voices!

BARGAINING: Okay, maybe if I try Armour. Or adding Cytomel to my Synthroid. Or giving up flour. Maybe then I can have my old life back.

DEPRESSION: Why do I even bother? Now the best I can hope for is never eating white bread or noodles again and still being overweight! Why did this have to happen to me??

I guess the next step is ACCEPTANCE. But can I go there after I have one more round of bloodwork this Friday? After all, I did start on birth control pills. Maybe the added estrogen is interfering with the thyroid meds. Maybe a magical dose increase will make me normal again?

Oh wait, now I’m back to bargaining.

21 Days

25 Jan

I had my appointment at U of M today. I don’t know why I gear myself up for these appointments…they usually represent two steps on a 100-mile journey. And no matter how much I coach myself, I always end up emotional and whiny about my symptoms. In summary…

  • I am still on the very long waiting list for Thyrogen, and there is no telling when I will have my full body scan.
  • I need to do a neck ultrasound to make sure nothing obvious is going on with my lymph nodes…scheduled for February 17.
  • On that same day, I will have my blood drawn to test TSH, T3, T4, Thyroglubin (the tumor marker), and my vitamin B-12 and D. Until then, I keep doing what I’m doing with the Synthroid/Cytomel.
  • I already know the Cytomel is making me hyperthyroid because my body temperature was 99 degrees and my resting heart rate was 80. I gained back the three pounds I thought I had lost, so I don’t think it’s doing me any good anyway. My hope now is that after my bloodwork on February 17, Dr. E will let me go back to square one: 125 mcg Synthroid.
  • I did recently get back on birth control, so I hope that helps some of my symptoms…my OBGYN seemed to think it would at least level out the hormonal ups and downs. All these stupid hormones are connected, of course.

So what else can I do? I left U of M feeling hopeless. I checked my Facebook, and a friend posted this quote: “You can spend all day in the gym, but unless you eat clean, you are wasting your time.” It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’ve thought a lot about giving up the love of my life (BREAD), but I haven’t actually ever done it. And I have to do something. I can’t just sit around and get fatter by the day. I LOVE bread. And noodles. And crackers. And all the wonders of white flour in general. But I don’t love them more than I hate being uncomfortable in my clothes. Maybe it’s time to face the fact that portion control doesn’t cut it post-thyroidectomy. I’ve been so devastated that my usual diet and exercise methods are failing me miserably, but let’s face it – there is nothing “usual” about me anymore.

It takes 21 days to break a bad habit. So maybe I don’t say goodbye to white flour forever…just for 21 days. What’s the worst that can happen? At least I will be able to look in the mirror and say “I TRIED EVERYTHING.” Tomorrow begins yet another leg of this journey. I am praying like crazy it’s the part where I finally crack the code.